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Hearst launches cross-platform High School Playbook network

Another site devoted to high school sports launches; this one will feature HD video and a whole lot of social networking features.

Here's one that's good for back-to-school season. The Web has made it possible for media niches that normally would get squeezed out of newspaper margins or TV time slots to find a way to be heard, and high school sports are no exception. We've already seen Takkle (earlier coverage here) fall into this sector, and now media giant Hearst-Argyle Television has launched a competitor--High School Playbook, which aims to go for a cross-platform strategy of TV, Internet, and mobile content. Sponsored by Canon, the site has launched in beta for a select number of sports-obsessed metro areas.

It looks like High School Playbook is going to be content-heavy, to say the least, with a laundry list of features: "comprehensive school information, game schedules, statistics, individual athlete profiles, interscholastic comparisons, and "game day" weather reports...personal profile pages, team pages, school pages, cheerleader pages, fitness and nutrition pages, SMS voting and other messaging that enables byplay among rival schools and fans." And then there's the video. High-definition content will be gathered from a variety of sources: professional videographers, trained "student journalists," and ordinary users. Since High School Playbook has the backing of Hearst-Argyle Television, which operates many a local news station, the infrastructure's largely already in place.

As we noted about Takkle, there's cause to be a little bit cautious about a site that's going to be providing so much in-depth information about individual high schoolers. Let's hope they have a good plan for that.